Chart-Topping Artists Simply Work Harder, Study Finds

Is it all dumb luck?  Not according a recent analysis involving the top 50 chart-ranked artists of last year.

It was a simple study, with pretty astounding results.  As part of a broader analysis of US-based touring by musical artists, busbud (a transportation and bus touring app) mapped the top 50 artists on the Bilboard 100 with their scheduled number of tour dates for 2016.

Then, they did the same exercise for the bottom 50.  These were the results.

In total, the top 50 artists of 2015 (as ranked by Billboard) have more than 700 shows scheduled, while the bottom 50 have fewer than 450.  In other words, the top half is hitting the pavement 75 percent more than the bottom half, according to the finding.  “You might think the bottom 50 artists would tour more in an attempt to find greater exposure and success, but that’s not the case,” the company told Digital Music News.

In terms of measurement bias, the budbus study noted that more popular groups are often more sought-after concert events, driving a busier schedule.  But strikingly, the group also found that a large number of top-ranked artists are actually dialing down their touring this year, for a variety of reasons.  “We looked at a selection of top artists to see how their upcoming tour schedule compares with 2015’s dates,” the group relayed.

“Interestingly, only one of the 10 plans to increase the number of shows in 2016: Aussie sensation 5 Seconds of Summer is riding the wave of fame, adding 22 more shows than last year.  However, other bands may book fewer tours for various reasons.”

The finding comes amidst a surge in artist touring, driven largely by a plunging recording.  That is causing problems of its own, with isolation, injuries, and burnout among the new hazards experienced by musicians.

Image by Moyan Brenn, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

7 Responses

  1. DoItForTheJoy

    So, artists have to have more shows than days in a year to even make it on the charts, and double that to hit number one? Makes sense…

  2. B3

    Correlation does not equal Causation. Of course the Top 50 Billboard artists are going to tour more often than someone that can’t crack the upper ranks; they have more demand in ALL markets, and SHOULD schedule a wider/longer tour. Just because the researchers (if you can even call them that) say it isn’t true, doesn’t make it so…

    • Paul Resnikoff

      I hear you, there’s certainly the causation/correlation problem as recognized by the authors themselves. It could be a simple fluke. But, wow, look at that chart. I had to put this out there, if only to stimulate more thought and further research on this. Artists are just charting a totally different relationship with touring, i.e., a lot more touring a a touring-centric revenue relationship with fans. So you’re going to see a lot more coverage on DMN as this evolves.

  3. Vail, CO

    Fun fact: more successful artists are often like more successful athletes. They’re more disciplined, plus they’re putting in more hours. People just want to believe it’s raw talent and that special something that can’t be duplicated… BULL… it’s not, but before you put down the Pitbulls and Taylor Swifts of the world, recognize these people work harder than almost any other artist out there.

  4. Jeremy

    While a smaller sample of artists, the bottom graph doesn’t really account for the touring nature of album cycles, excluding the legacy acts.

  5. Charles

    The data shown looks interesting, but the conclusions the authors draw are simply not sustained. One way to really know if harder work leads to higher success would be to get touring data in years before appearing on the ranking, not after.

  6. Rudy

    Sia is the number one act these days and she does not tour.This data is garbage.

    The headline has truth though – saying hard work equals success. Sia at one point worked extremely hard to get to where she is. She has been at it for 30 years.

    People argue that music does not require hard work. It’s a ridiculous statement. Apply it to anything else like; law, artistry, coding, or dentistry. There is no difference. In just about all cases it requires a lot of hard work to be successful, even if you are a prodigy. Picasso was born a prodigy and he was one of the few prodigies that succeeded later in life. The other one’s didn’t work as hard. Keisha’s talent is questionable but she was writing constantly in the beginning… it didn’t come out of thin air. Success comes from hard work. Hard work does not always equal success.